GU Theater and Performance Studies and Arena Stage Celebrate Studs Terkel’s Life and Work with “Will the Circle Be Unbroken?”

Dec. 7 concert-style reading at GU’s Gaston Hall features Academy Award nominee David Strathairn and other leading stars of stage and screen with GU students and alumni

Nov. 10, 2009 — Washington, D.C. — The Georgetown University Theater and Performance Studies Program, in partnership with Arena Stage, presents the concert-style reading of “Will the Circle Be Unbroken? Reflections of Death, Rebirth, and Hunger for a Faith,” adapted by Derek Goldman from Pulitzer Prize-winning author, broadcaster and activist Studs Terkel’s award-winning book of the same name, at Georgetown University’s Gaston Hall on Monday, Dec. 7, 2009 at 8 p.m.

Directed by Goldman and Joseph Megel, this celebration of Terkel’s life and work features David Strathairn (Academy Award Nominee for “Good Night and Good Luck”); Theodore Bikel (Broadway’s “Fiddler on the Roof, Tony Award nominee for “The Sound of Music); Kathleen Chalfant (Tony Award Nominee for “Angels in America: Millennium Approaches”); Rick Foucheux (Helen Hayes Award Winner for “Take Me Out,” “Edmond”); Edward Gero (Helen Hayes Award Winner for “Macbeth,” “Richard II,” “Henry IV,” “Skylight”); Cheryl Lynn Bruce (Helen Hayes Award winner for “From the Mississippi Delta”); Cheryl Hamada (“Losing Isaiah,” Goodman Theatre’s “A Christmas Carol”); Keith Randolph Smith (“Malcolm X,” Broadway’s “Come Back, Little Sheba”); Ted van Griethuysen (Helen Hayes Award winner for “Major Barbara, Timon of Athens”); Clark Young (GU class of 2009; Woolly Mammoth’s “Full Circle”); plus additional GU alumni and student vocalists.

First developed and presented in several celebrated renditions by Steppenwolf Theater in Chicago, “Will the Circle Be Unbroken?” is a poignant evening of song, story and celebration, commemorating the life of Terkel, who died on October 31, 2008 at age 96. In this life-affirming adaptation of Terkel’s book of more than 60 extraordinary interviews on death and dying, the subjects range from everyday citizens — parents, medics, patients, teachers, and clergy — to recognizable figures such as author Kurt Vonnegut, actress Uta Hagen, musician Doc Watson, and Studs Terkel himself. The work incorporates blues, folk, opera, and gospel into a vibrant tapestry of life’s full process that the Chicago Sun-Times called “unforgettable.”

Goldman said, “After reading ‘Will the Circle Be Unbroken?,’ I approached Studs about developing a stage adaptation, and I feel blessed that he not only consented, but played a generous and active role in shaping the piece. Like so much of Studs’ work, the book is about many things – faith, family, work, justice, race, war, health and our mortal bodies. But he and I bonded especially over the ways it is about music and the deeply intertwined relationship between death and artistic expression.”

Tickets are $30 general; $25 senior (65 and older) and alumni; $15 faculty and staff; and $5 student. To order or for more information, visit or call (202) 687-ARTS (2787), Monday through Friday from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.

The Arena-Georgetown partnership is made possible thanks to the generosity of Andrew R. Ammerman and the Family of H. Max and Josephine F. Ammerman.

About Derek Goldman
Derek Goldman (adapter/co-director) is Artistic Director of the Davis Performing Arts Center and Associate Professor of Theater and Performance Studies. An award-winning director and adapter/playwright, he has directed off-Broadway, internationally, and worked regularly with leading regional theatres around the country and throughout the D.C. area. As Founding Artistic Director of the StreetSigns Center for Literature and Performance, a socially-engaged professional theatre founded in Chicago and now based in Chapel, Hill, N.C. he led the company for 15 years through more than 60 productions. Recent credits include his adaptation of Lysistrata with Synetic Theater and GU; Eurydice at Round House Theater; Sholom Aleichem: Laughter Through Tears, which he developed with the legendary Theodore Bikel and premiered at Theater J, and which is currently running in New York; As You Like It at Folger Theater, as well as work at Lincoln Center, Arena Stage, the Kennedy Center, and more. He has a Ph. D. in Performance Studies from Northwestern University and has been the recipient of awards for his teaching and for his published scholarship on the politics of adaptation. Other GU directing credits include The Winter’s Tale, his nationally acclaimed Holocaust play Right As Rain, The Skin of Our Teeth, and the D.C. premieres of Eurydice and Stuff Happens. Other upcoming projects In Darfur at Theater J and a new adaptation of Kafka’s Metamorphosis with Synetic.

About the Georgetown Theater & Performance Studies Program
The Georgetown Theater & Performance Studies Program integrates creative and critical inquiry, emphasizing artistic excellence, interdisciplinary learning, socially-engaged performance, and the spirit of collaboration. Now offering a dynamic major in Theater & Performance Studies, the Program features a nationally recognized faculty, including a number of the field’s leading scholar/artists, and many of the region’s leading professional theater practitioners. One of the country’s only undergraduate programs in Theater and Performance Studies, the fast-growing program has rapidly attracted significant national attention for its distinctive curriculum, reflecting the political and international character of Georgetown, as well as for its commitment to social justice, and its high-quality, cutting-edge student production seasons. For more information, please visit

About Arena Stage
Under the leadership of Artistic Director Molly Smith and Managing Director Edgar Dobie, Washington, D.C.-based Arena Stage has become the largest theater in the country dedicated to American plays and playwrights. Founded in 1950 by Zelda Fichandler, Thomas Fichandler and Edward Mangum, Arena Stage was one of the nation’s original resident theaters and has a distinguished record of leadership and innovation in the field. With the opening of the new Mead Center for American Theater in 2010, Arena Stage will be a leading center for the production, presentation, development and study of American theater. Now in its sixth decade, Arena Stage serves a diverse annual audience of more than 200,000. For more information please visit

Laura Mertens
(202) 687-6933